Fletcher and Miranda Stevens’ brew pub could open in Yellowknife’s Old Town district as early as June.
Fletcher Stevens says construction is well under way at the former site of Bartle and Gibson, and the building could be turned over to them as soon as April.
“There’s still a lot of work that has to be done after the building is completed,” he told Moose FM. “But we’re crossing our fingers for an opening some time in June, right in time for the summer.”
Kitchen and brewing equipment is ready and waiting in Portland, Oregon. Stevens says it can be shipped up as soon as he gives the go-ahead.
“Ideally I can get my tanks and the brewing apparatus moved in by the end of March or early April, so that I can start cleaning and brewing by then.”
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While optimistic, Stevens knows he and his wife aren’t in the clear just yet.
“There are always other things that can come into play, such as whether or not the licensing goes through,” he said.
“It’s kind of a catch-22, since you have to actually build the structure before they give you a licence – so you can put everything on the line without even knowing if it’s going to work out in the end.”
The Stevens’ will also face high operating costs out of the gate. Taxes to manufacture beer per litre are higher in the NWT than anywhere else in Canada.
The couple says it will push the NWT Liquor Commission to create a tiered system where they are taxed as a small-scale brewery.
“We know that restaurants can be one of the riskiest businesses to enter so we have to use moderate numbers when we form our business plan,” said Stevens.
“But I really think people are starting to sway towards craft beer, combined with the food revolution happening everywhere else where people are starting to notice the intricacies of flavour.
“Food and craft beer also pair well together, so I hope that’s a catalyst for us.”